Mountain biking challenge to mark Tenzing Norgay's 105th birth anniv

Darjeeling: Anup Kumar Tokdar had visited his son in South Carolina, USA, four years ago. There he fell in love with cycling.

On Tenzing Norgay's 105th birth anniversary, 72-year-old Tokdar found himself being felicitated by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI,) Darjeeling, for completing the 68 km long 1st Tenzing Norgay Mountain Biking Challenge.

Along with him was 67-year -old Tapan Kumar Rai from Singur, Hoogly. Around 105 participants had taken part in this challenge.

"This is for the first time that this Mountain Biking Challenge is being organised. Participants from Nepal and other neighbouring countries participated along with the India. In future we want to make this into an annual calendar even and hope that the MTB Challenge become known globally and people from other parts of the world take part," said Group Captain Jai Kishan, Principal, HMI.

The 68-km long route was from HMI, Darjeeling, to Air Force Station, Bagora via Chatakpur and back.

Devendra Kumar of Himachal Pradesh bagged the first prize having completed the race in 3 hours and 29 minutes.

He received a cash award of Rs 75,000. The second prize was bagged by Vitthal Bhosley of Maharashtra who completed the race in 3 hours and 51 minutes. He was given a cash award of Rs. 50,000.

Laxman Malla of Nepal stood third having completed the race in 3 hours 52 minutes. He was given a cash award of Rs. 25000. There female participants were also felicitated along with Tokdar and Rai.

"I had taken to cycling from the USA, 4 years ago. It was for my health. Now I'm in love with the sport. It's my passion. I have a hybrid bike at home in Kolkata. I cycle two hours everyday," stated Topdar.

It was lifetime experience for him. "I had never cycled on so difficult a terrain. A few cyclists were injured also," stated the 72-year-old. However, he has plans to return next year and continue till health permits.For 67-year-old Rai it was his first ride on a Mountain Bike. "It was an excellent experience. I have been cycling since I was a kid and love it," he added.

Shanti Rai, a river rescuer and river guide (rafter) were also felicitated. Along with her Samantha Dong, the only certified female Land Rover driver from India was felicitated.

A first day cover of Tenzing Norgay with a special cancellation was launched to mark the day by the Indian Postal Department and the Alpine Philatelic and Numismatic Society, Darjeeling.

"My father had done the impossible. The day marks the 66th year of the conquest of Mount Everest. We hope that the HMI continues to commemorate the day for years to come," stated Jamling tensing Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. People from all walks of life paid respect to the memorial of Tenzing Norgay in the HMI premises, the spot where he was cremated.

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